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The Parent Inverse and the Origin o 

COVERART Confinement - by reynante 

Does Your Character Have Any Feelings 
7 Elements of Digital Storytelling 




The Importance Of Bodylanguage 




m n B RE I M E 


Gaurav Nawani %aurav@blenderart.or% 


Sandra Gilbert sandra@blenderart.or% 


Nam Pham 

Elements of Digital Storytelli 


Gaurav, Sandra, Alex 


Brian Treacy 
Daniel Hand 
Daniel Mate 
Fade Shayol 
Joel Godin 
Joshua Leung 
Joshua Scotton 
Marion Piper 
Mark Warren 
Patrick O'Donnell 
Phillip Ryals 
Scott Hill 
Tansunn Kitsuki 
Valerie Hambert 
Wade Bick 

■ ll 

Parent Inverse and the Origin of Children 

The Importance Of Bodylanguage 




Pep Ribal 
Aaron Powell 
Marc Leboeuf 



by reynante 

ssue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 


"Stories are easier to tell in animation 
form than in just a single image. But even 
though they are easier to tell, they require 
an enormous amount of work, planning 
and dedication on the part of the story- 
teller. " 

I have been an avid reader ever since I was 
old enough to pick up a book. Getting lost 
in a story is one of my greatest pleasures. 
And even worse, I love to tell stories, just 
ask my family. I can, and do, go on and on 
and on. Whether in written form or any 
number of available digital formats (i.e. im- 
ages, animations, presentations etc.) story- 
telling is an important part of the human 
psyche. From the dawn of man, stories have 
been told, shared and embellished. Stories 
have been, and still are, a valuable way to 
teach important life lessons and share expe- 
riences that evoke strong emotions and a 
sense of connecting or belonging. They can 
also be a great form of entertainment. 

The ways stories have been shared has 
changed since the first story was told, but 
still they are told and retold with ever new 
interpretations and variations. In the world 
of CG art, stories are most easily told in ani- 
mation. Let's face it, subjects move, plots 
move forward, conclusions/climaxes are 

reached and the story ends. Stories are eas- 
ier to tell in animation form than in just a 
single image. But even though they are eas- 
ier to tell, they require an enormous 
amount of work, planning and dedication 
on the part of the storyteller. 

Capturing a story in a single image can be 
difficult to say the least. Do you show the 
action about to take place, already done or 
somewhere in between. And how do you 
show action about to take place? A single 
image presents challenges not found in ani- 
mation, yet many of the same principles 
still apply when setting it up. Good 
composition/staging, lighting, emotions, 
action (okay suggestion of action) are 
needed elements for both single images and 
animations. Getting it right can make the 
difference between just another pretty im- 
age and a meaningful image that sticks 
with the viewer. 

We are going to take a look at the various 
elements that make for memorable images 
and animations. So gather round blender 
kiddies as we begin our tale... 

Once upon... an image? 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 


"/ was watching Sintel with 

my 4 year old again for the 

dozenth time in 4 days" 

Unlike many other viewers, I 
have seen Sintel on a daily ba- 
sis since its online release. 
Due in large part to extreme excite- 
ment blocking out a totally foreseea- 
ble realization. I should have known 
that letting my 4 year old see it with 
me was going to trigger massive mar- 
athon viewings of Sintel. Which of 
course it has. 

All it took was her seeing it once, for 
her to immediately fall in love with 
the characters and the story. I must 
admit that mommy was rather impressed with the 
first viewing as well. It is a beautifully directed story 
that draws the viewer in. The music was amazing 
and tied everything together so nicely. I was so 
proud of the Durian team and how well they did. 

And yet, I have to admit that over the years I have 
become jaded when watching animations. While 
part of me gets lost in the story, there is this analyti- 
cal little voice yattering away in the background, 
pointing out all the little boo boos and technical 
glitches that plague even the most well polished 
commercial offerings. So yes, I did see the places in 
Sintel where things could have been polished and 
tweaked further. They were bound to be there, it 

And yet something rather amazing happened about 4 
days after the release. I was watching Sintel with my 
4 year old again for the dozenth time in 4 days. As I 
was sitting in front on my computer with her curled 
up in my lap, she looked up at me with the most 
amazing expression. While reaching out and grab- 
bing my hand, she turned back to Sintel to become 
mesmerized once again as the story unfolded. At 
that moment I realized that somewhere over the last 

4 days, that annoying little analytical voice had fallen 
silent. I was able to simply sit and enjoy a beautiful 
story with my little girl. 

As I sat there, 
I realized that 
the Durian 
team had 
done far bet- 
ter than any- 
one had given 
them credit 
for. The 
whole point 
of stories is 
to create 
bonds that 
can be 
shared. Most 
often this is 

accomplished between the viewer and the charac- 
ters. But sometimes if you are really good, you man- 
age to create bonds between the people watching it 

Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE: 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling 


lender has become a power- 
ful tool for creating and shar- 
ing artistic visions. Over the 
last several years a number of ex- 
cellent images and animations 
have been created by very talented 
members of the community. The 
increasing quality of artwork pro- 
duced and of Blender itself has 
served as an inspiration for many 
to jump into 3D for the first time. 

While you can just jump in and 
start creating fairly easily, creating 
a memorable image that evokes 
emotion or tells a story or creating a meaningful 
animation takes a bit of planning and a lot of hard 
work. During the planning stages of your project, 
you need to consider what you are trying to express 
and share with your project. Are you just creating a 
one off image to showcase skills learned or are you 
actually trying to communicate something impor- 

The Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in Berkeley, 
California is known for developing and disseminat- 
ing the Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling, which 
are often cited as a useful starting point as you be- 
gin working with digital stories. CDS' Seven Ele- 
ments of Digital Storytelling are geared for digital 
animations and presentations, but can be useful 
when creating a single image that sends a powerful 
message as well. 

Okay, so just what are the Seven Elements of Digital 

l Point of View: What is the main point of 
the story and what is the perspective of the 

2 A Dramatic Question : A key question that 
keeps the viewer's attention and will be 
answered by the end of the story. 

3 Emotional Content : Serious issues that 
come alive in a personal and powerful way 
and connects the story to the audience. 

4 The Gift of Your Voice : A way to personal- 
ize the story to help the audience under- 
stand the context. 

5 The Power of the Soundtrack : Music or 
other sounds that support and embellish 
the storyline. 

6 Economy : Using just enough content to 
tell the story without overloading the view- 

7 Pacing : The rhythm of the story and how 
slowly or quickly it progresses. 

*note: when creating a single image that tells a sto- 
ry, numbers 5 & 7 don't really apply. 

CDS's Digital Storytelling Cookbook - February 2007 
(See Chapter 2) . 

Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE: 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling 


( Boring? \ 

could be 

T. Resolution fc 

is realised when... which answers the 

Pouierti ^ 


f Riythm Y use K Fating ^B*n»m#7_/ 

_ J Powerful 1 

This diagram will help you picture the role that 
each of the 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling 
play in creating memorable stories ■ 

Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! Docs your Character Have any Feelings? 

We have all seen them- 
beautifully modeled and 
textured characters that 
have no depth. They look like little 
actions figures. Which don't get me 
wrong, action figures are cool. But 
they are posed with one expression 
and generally one body pose. 
Which might be totally awesome 
for that one instance it was de- 
signed for, but does little for fur- 
ther exploration of a character or 
storyline. In order to connect with 
a character, the viewer needs to 
see that the character actually has 
a full range of emotions. 

Of course the best way to show this is through well 
thought out facial expressions that can be easily 
read. But even great facial expressions by them- 
selves aren't going to do it. The facial expression 
needs to reflect the body language and what is actu- 
ally going on in the scene. Nothing is more confus- 
ing for a viewer than a character bouncing around 
like a happy kid in a candy store with a sad, woe 
begone facial expression, in a scene that doesn't call 
for either. 

Now, obviously that was a very silly example, but it 
does illustrate the point that facial expressions and 
body language actually need to reflect what is hap- 
pening to the character in the scene. 

Just how do we go about creating believable facial 
expressions? Well, having a limited budget, I usually 
turn to the Internet when I want to know some- 
thing. It is absolutely amazing what you can find. 

While buzzing around online (something I do far 
too much of), I ran across a very cool blog run by 

Dani Jones. Oddly enough, the link I followed 
dropped me right on the best post ever, 50 Facial 
Expressions and How to Draw Them . Now granted, 
he is a traditional illustrator and we work in 3d. But 
the knowledge he shared in this post transfers 
beautifully from 2d to 3d. I encourage you to go 
check out his blog ( ). 

In the meantime, here are some important tips he 
posted about facial expressions: 

The Most Important Features 

l.The Eyes - Probably the most important feature 
for evoking a clear emotion. Utilize the eyelids and 
eyebrows to create your effect. 

2.The Cheeks - The way they squash and stretch will 
affect the look and position of the eyes. 

3.The Mouth - The shape of the mouth is also very 
important. It affects how the cheeks move and the 
shape of the entire face. 

Additional Tips 

Note that when you move the shape and position of 
one feature, it affects everything else. Nothing 
stands completely on its own. 

For a stronger drawing and character, really push 
the expression. Instead of simply drawing a happy 
person, draw one that is ecstatic; instead of draw- 
ing an angry person, draw a furious one. 

Have a mirror nearby. When I'm trying to nail down 
an expression, I often find my own face making 
weird movements unconsciously. It can make for 
good reference. 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! Docs your Character Have any Feelings? 


In addition to the above tips, Dani Jones also had a Fa- 
cial Expressions Chart of 50 different facial expressions 
for you to study and a pdf for download . Some of the 
expressions are just priceless and are well worth check- 
ing out. 

Now you have some nice facial expression reference, 
what next? Well there is no one better to consult than 
the masters. Further exploration led me to . online home of Frank 
Thomas & Ollie Johnston. They have a great page on 
their site (actually their whole site is filled with great 
information) that discusses emotion in animation. They 
developed a list of 12 questions that you should ask 
yourself when animating your characters. 

Keys to Emotion in Animation 


by Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston, June 2003 

1 Is the character doing what the director wants in 
the sequence? 

2 Is the character doing only one thing at a time? 

3 Is the character putting over the story point in 
the scene you are doing? 

4 Is the character acting as if there is something 
going on in his mind? 

5 Does the character appear to be doing something 
on his own? 

6 Can the audience tell what the character is think- 

7 How does what the character is doing effect what 
the audience is thinking? 

8 Does the character have appeal? 

9 Is it passionate? Is passion going into the drawing 
and coming out of the character? 

10 Is it the simplest way to do it? 

11 Have you made small story sketches of one im- 
portant character to be sure everything is work- 
ing before you make a lot of drawings? 

12 Would any one else besides your mother like 
what you have done? 

Now we have a bit of reference and direction, and it is 
time for the Blender component. How do we get those 
wonderful expressions? Of course there is not just one 
way to do anything in Blender so here is a list of video 
tutorials that cover various techniques you can use to 
create and animate facial features. 

Rigging a Pupil for Dilation 

Creating a Face Rig 

Learning Action Constraints 

Time to practice, practice, practice. Remember to look 
in a mirror often and watch your own face, get your 
buddies to make faces for you as well. In no time you 
will be creating an expressive range of emotions ■ 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! The Parent Inverse and the Origin of Children 


This is not an article about where ba- 
bies come from. Actually what I'm 
talking about is child objects, their lo- 
cation, rotation and scale in relation 
to their parent objects. 

I want to write about this topic that 
drove me nuts when I started learning 
Blender. I'm talking about the obscure 
and terrifying Parent Inverse. The first 
thing that came to my mind when I 
read about it was my father hanging 

upside down. But I consider myself a good son, so I 

quickly wiped that image off my mind. 

I found it really confusing at the beginning: it was 
very difficult to understand what exactly was the 
Parent Inverse, and why the location coordinates of 
the child object remained the same after aligning it 
to the position of its parent with Alt-0 (Clear Ori- 

At that time I had used other 3D applications, in 
which the origin of a child object was always the 
location of its parent, as plain as that. But in 
Blender things seemed to work a bit different, and I 
couldn't find out exactly how, even in all the docu- 
mentation around. It is still difficult to find that ex- 
planation out there. Even when I posted the 
question in Blender forums a time long ago, all I got 
were replies of the type "I don't exactly know, but..." 
or "I'm also wondering how it works, but...". I was 
even asked "why on earth I wanted to know about 
all that stuff". So that's why I'd like to shed some 
light onto this obscure issue. 

First, we will focus on location coordinates for this 
first example, so scale and rotation will be left apart 
for now. 

Let's start with the following scenario: just one 
cube and a UV sphere. Let's say the cube is located 
at the global point (3,3,0), and the sphere at global 
point (5,5,0). A Top Ortho view will be very useful 
for this experiment. 

What happens if we make the cube the parent of 
the sphere? RMB the sphere, then Shift-RMB the 
cube, press Ctrl-P, and select Object. Now the cube 
is the parent of the sphere. Neither of the objects 
have moved apparently. So, what are the coordi- 
nates of both objects now? Well, actually the same 
as before (you can check in the object transform 
properties, hotkey N). But the real question is: what 
is the origin of both objects now? 

This is an easy question. Provided that no object 
moved, and there wasn't any change in location co- 
ordinates, the origin should be the same as before: 
the global origin (0,0,0). 

Does it make sense? 

Well, for the parent cube, it definitely does, as it's 
still a global object (it has no parent). But, shouldn't 
the origin of the sphere be the location of its par- 
ent? Actually it is, but with a small modification. If 
we now move the parent cube to (4,4,0), what hap- 
pens to the sphere? It is apparently at global 
(6,6,0)... And its location (local) coordinates haven't 
changed; they still are (5,5,0), as the Properties side- 
bar shows. That means that its origin is now (1,1,0). 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! The Parent Inverse and the Origin of Children 


It's obvious that the sphere origin moves with the par- 
ent cube, but it's not exactly the location of the parent 
cube. When the cube was at (3,3,0), the child origin 
was at (0,0,0); now the cube is at (4,4,0) and the child 
origin is at (1,1,0)... 

So, we can easily see that the child origin is the parent 
minus (3,3,0), or the parent origin plus (-3,-3,0), which 
will give the same result. What is this (-3,-3,0) value? 
Well, that is exactly the Parent Inverse...! 

To speak properly, that is not exactly the Parent In- 
verse. So before we proceed, we need now to introduce 
briefly the concept of Transformation Matrices. 

The Matrix 

Even if you are not the One (and you are probably not, 
don't fool yourself), you deserve to know that location, 
rotation and scale of any object, in each of the 3 axes 
(X, Y and Z) are stored internally in a matrix of 4x4 
numbers, called the Transformation Matrix of the ob- 
ject. The contents of the matrix of the active object are 
shown in the Transform panel of the Properties sidebar 
in the 3D View (hotkey N) while in Object Mode, trans- 
lated to easily understandable coordinate numbers that 
show the transformation values of the active object in 
the 3 axes. 

Every object has its own associated transformation ma- 
trix. To know the effective location, rotation and scale 
of a given object, we need two things: its transforma- 
tion matrix, and its origin (the departing point of that 
transformation). For a global object (that has no par- 
ent), this origin is location (0,0,0), rotation (0,0,0), and 
scale (1,1,1). For a child object, this origin is its parent 
location, rotation and scale, but child objects also have 
an additional matrix applied: the Parent Inverse. 

So we need to introduce the concept of "inverse ma- 
trix". What is an inverse transformation matrix? It's a 
matrix that when applied to an object takes it back to 
its origin. For instance, given a global object at its ori- 
gin, if we apply a series of transformations on it 
(location, rotations and scaling), that global object 
ends up having a transformation matrix that shows all 
these transformations. The inverse of this matrix, ap- 
plied to the same object undoes all of them, and the 
object rests again in its origin, with no rotations or 
scaling at all. 

To make it simple, let's go back to the cube/sphere ex- 
ample. Let's focus on location only. At the very begin- 
ning, when the sphere wasn't related to the cube yet, 
the cube was at global (3,3,0). Let's simplify things, say- 
ing (though it's wrong) that the transformation matrix 
of the cube was "location (3,3,0)". The inverse transfor- 
mation matrix, the one that would take the cube back 
to its origin, is naturally "location (-3,-3,0)", as (3,3,0) + 
(-3,-3,0) = (0,0,0), that is, matrix + inverse matrix = ori- 

▼ Transfoi 

f X: 5.000 


Y. 5.000 


L Z: 0.000 j 


[ *°' 1 


Y.0 C 


I i0" J 


So, now we know what the inverse transformation ma- 
trix of the cube is. Blender is not using this inverse 

Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! The Parent Inverse and the Origin of Children 


matrix yet, but as soon as the sphere becomes the child 
of the cube, that inverse matrix (of the parent cube) is 
calculated and effectively applied to the child sphere. 
That's how we find the real origin of the sphere. 

So to summarize: at the moment of parenting, the matrix 
that would take the parent to its origin (the parent's in- 
verse transformation matrix) is calculated and applied to 
the new child. 

As you might remember, the effective origin of the 
sphere was the location of the parent object, plus 
"location (-3,-3,0)". That is, the location of the parent 
plus the Parent Inverse. So why does Blender act this 
way? Why does it use the inverse transformation ma- 
trix of a parent object into child objects? Let's actually 
see what would happen if Blender didn't do so. There 
are 2 options: 

a What if Blender parents the sphere to the cube 
without applying the Parent Inverse to the 
sphere, and without changing the transformation 
matrix of the sphere child? That is, without 
changing its location, rotation and scale values. 
This means that as the origin of the sphere is 
changing from the global origin to the parent ob- 
ject location, the actual sphere would change its 
position visibly on screen. Thus, with the position 
of the sphere being (5,5,0), and its new origin 
(3,3,0), we would automatically see the sphere 
jump to (3,3,0) + (5,5,0), that is, (8,8,0). 

b What if Blender wants to avoid this jump at the 
moment of parenting, and still not apply the Par- 
ent Inverse? Then the actual location coordinates 
of the sphere would need to be changed. In this 
case, as the new origin is (3,3,0), the new location 
coordinates of the sphere should be changed to 
(2,2,0) so that it remains at global (5,5,0), as 
(3,3,0) + (2,2,0) = (5,5,0). But that wouldn't be too 

suitable, as we would be changing the object at- 
tributes (transformation matrix) for the sake of 
parenting, which is not justified. What would 
happen to such a sphere if we cleared the parent- 
ing relation with the cube, or we deleted the 
cube? It would jump to (2,2,0), which is bad. So 
this one is not an option. 

That said, the only way to preserve the object at- 
tributes (its own transformation matrix) and yet avoid 
the jump when parenting, is to apply the Parent Inverse 
to the child. 

So to summarize all this, the global location of the 

child is: the location of the parent + the Parent Inverse as 
it was at the moment of parenting + the (local) location 
coordinates of the child. 

We speak of global coordinates when they are relative 
to the global origin; local coordinates are relative to 
some parent object. So the transformation properties 
of an object become local as soon as we parent the ob- 
ject, and they are global as soon as we unparent it. 

So, to make it easier to understand we have focused 
exclusively on location, but as I mentioned earlier, the 
parent inverse transformation matrix (the Parent In- 
verse) is made up of all three types of transformations: 
location, rotation and scale. There is no need to go over 
the example again focusing on these other transforma- 
tion types, as they work in a similar way. If the parent 
has a rotation of (10,-40,90), the Parent Inverse matrix 
will have a rotation of (-10,40,-90); if the parent's scale 
is (2,1,2), the scale of the Parent Inverse applied to the 
child will be (0.5,1,0.5), and so on... 

Keep in mind that as soon as the parenting is done, the 
Parent Inverse matrix applied to the child is the inverse 
of the parent's transformation matrix at the very mo- 
ment of parenting; that is, that matrix is never changed 

Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! The Parent Inverse and the Origin of Children 


afterwards, even if we apply one thousand transforma- 
tions to the parent. There is a way to change that ma- 
trix applied to the child as you will see next. 

Another question to consider is that a global object, an 
object that has no parent, doesn't have a Parent Inverse 
applied, naturally. This only affects child objects. 

Clear Origin (Alt-O) 

In the sphere/cube example, what will happen if we 
clear the sphere location (Alt-G)? Its location coordi- 
nates will go (0,0,0), and so it will jump to its origin. If 
you remember, that origin is exactly its parent cube 
location plus the cube inverse matrix at the moment of 
parenting. This means that the sphere will jump to the 
position of the parent plus (-3,-3,0). 

In Blender, with the child object active, you can press 
Alt-P and select Clear Parent Inverse. What does that 
do? Well, it clears the Parent Inverse... Surprised? Me 

In this case (with location already cleared) that means 
that the sphere jumps to the same location of its par- 
ent. When the Parent Inverse is cleared, the origin of 
the child is actually the parent location, rotation and 
scaling, as simple as that. The Parent Inverse is ignored 
from then on, unless we modify it. 

Clear Parent Inverse doesn't have any effect on non- 
child objects. 

However, there is another way to make the child jump 
directly to the location of the parent without clearing 
the child location and the Parent Inverse. It's the com- 
mand Clear Origin (Alt-O). This command only affects 
location (not rotation or scale). It makes the child ob- 
ject jump to the same global position of its parent, so 
that we see them placed in the same global coordinate. 

And it does it without changing the child's attributes: it 
actually changes the values of the child's Parent Inverse 
matrix accordingly which will no longer have the value 
calculated at the time of parenting. This is the only way 
to change the Parent Inverse matrix of a child object in 
Blender (unless you use a Python script to change its 
values, naturally). 

Unparenting (Alt-P) 

We have already seen the Clear Parent Inverse (Alt-P) 

command. There are other uses for Alt-P. None of these 
have effect on global objects: 

The first one is Clear Parent, which will cancel the 
parenting relationship between the selected object(s) 
and his (their) parents. The effect of the transforma- 
tions of the parent will be discarded, and so the for- 
merly child object will jump according to its new 
(global) origin, in relation to location, rotation and 
scale. Its local coordinates will become global but un- 
changed in value. 

The other one is Clear and Keep Transformation. This 
one also cancels the parenting relationship, but it 
changes the child object attributes (location, rotation, 
scale) so that the transformations of the parent are ap- 
plied to the child and when the child becomes a global 
object, no apparent change is seen on screen. In other 
words, it translates its local coordinates to the corre- 
sponding global ones. 

Parenting methods 

Besides the usual Ctrl-P parenting command, there is 
another one: Make Parent without inverse (Shift-Ctrl- 
P). This command is equivalent to making a usual 
parenting (Ctrl-P), then clearing the Parent Inverse (Alt- 
P), and finally clearing the child's location 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! The Parent Inverse and the Origin of Children 


(just the location, with Alt-G). The child jumps into the 
same global point where its parent is, without Parent 
Inverse matrix applied, and with its transform proper- 
ties intact, except for its location coordinates which 
become (0,0,0). 

And that's pretty much all, folks. I hope to have made 
this topic a bit more clear, as it was a difficult thing to 
grasp, in my case. But it's known that things between 
parents and children are always very difficult ■ 

Be good! 

Pep Ribal works as an IT Engineer. How- 
ever he is very interested in the audiovisual 
and multimedia world, and he has worked in a 
few TV productions and short films as a direc- 
tor, actor, screenplay writer and video editor. 
He has made a few small 3D works for TV using Blender. 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE: Rule of Thirds 



I had this wonderful article all planned 
out on the Rule of Thirds , something 
we should all know about and have 
been practicing. To explain my project, 
I needed a Rule of Thirds grid in Blend- 
er. Now I remembered reading in 
Roger Wickes' book "Foundation 
Blender Compositing", that he rou- 
tinely used a Rule of Thirds grid to 
line up his projects. So I grab his book, 
only to realize that I seem to have mis- 
placed the DVD that goes with it. 

No problem, it can't be that hard to set up. So I fire 
up blender and make a grid, line it up with my cam- 
era, set it to wire and... nothing. No grid lines. Obvi- 
ously I have done something wrong. Where is that 
disc? More looking, still can't find it. Hmmmm. 
Okay, I go to the Friends of Ed website and down- 
load all the tutorial files. Boy that was a big down- 
load. A quick search through the files gets me to the 
right blend file, but this really isn't my day, because 
I can't for the life of me find the promised grid. 

Okay, Roger and I can't be the first to want a grid in 
blender, so I run a google search. Yay, Andrew Price 
covered that on his site BlenderGuru . Awww, nuts 
his technique would be helpful in many situations, 
but not for what I had in mind. This shouldn't be 
this hard. Okay, I am a fairly smart woman, and 
Blender always provides more than one way to ac- 
complish anything. I just need to sit down and 
think about this. 

What I want is a visible grid parented to the camera 
that I can use to line up my shot. So after a little 

brainstorming I came up with a simple idea that 
should work just fine. 

Rule of Thirds Grid: 

• Add a plane and re-size it so that it is long and 
rather skinny. 

• Duplicate it and move it over (hold down con- 
trol and move it one major grid unit) 

• Duplicate both planes and rotate them 90 de- 
grees and line them up on the grid (fig l) 

• Join all the planes into one object 

• Go into camera view and re-size the grid to fit 
in the camera view 

• In side view, move the grid object closer to the 
camera, re-size if necessary and parent to the 

Now when 
ever and 
where ever 
you move the 
camera, the 
grid object 
will automati- 
cally move as 

Additional tips: 

In the outliner window, toggle off the "restrict ren- 
derability" icon (the little camera). Now the grid 
object will not render in your final image. 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE: Rule of Thirds 


You can add a simple material, I chose a basic black or 
depending on the scene red might be better, set to 
O.250 alpha, then checked the Transparency option in 
the Display settings of the Object properties panel. This 
way you can see it, but it won't overly interfere with 
you scene visibility. 

Alright, now I have 
a grid and I can fi- 
nally get on with 
my article. So we 
all know that there 
are four main 
"power points" 
when using the 
Principle of Thirds, 
(fig 3) A viewer's 
eye is automatically 
drawn to whatever 
lies in that magical 
area. By controlling 
what is framed 
there, we can focus 
our story image and 
the message re- 
ceived by the view- 

JEMXK*-- IMM f ■ »^'T B-M^ Bill II 

ED , 


I ran across a very cool website- , 
for the book, Visual Storytelling by Anthony C. Caputo, 
(which is unfortunately out of print.) On his site he had 
a great example that explained the Principle of Thirds. 
While it is a very simple example, it does show clearly 
how simply moving what is contained in the power 
center changes the whole message of an image. 

I modeled a quick simple scene to illustrate how easy it 
is to change the focus of your image and what will 
catch your viewer's attention first. 

This first one is all about the sunset (sunset image) 

The second one is all about the road (road image). 

And the last image is all about the sky (sky image) 

Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE: Rule of Thirds 


All three images have exactly the same elements, yet 
tell different stories due to how each one is framed. 

In Blender it was very easy for me to set up a Principle 
of Thirds framing rig to create these examples. Once I 
had created my Principle of Thirds camera grid, I sim- 
ply added an empty and made the camera track the 
empty. Now it was too easy to adjust my framing to 
achieve just the effect I was going for. 

Hmmmm, think I'm going to save that rig for future 
use ■ 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! Zoybaroque 


From the Blenderart Staff! We are so 
excited to announce that Marc Leboef 
from Montreal, won the Fantasy cate- 
gory of the The Zoybar-Shapeways-Blender 
challenge . 

Marc: I am a freelancer and teacher in 3D. 
I also teach special needs kids (mostly au- 
tistics) with Blender. 

When I first saw a Zoybar guitar kit, I first 
noticed the post-modern look of the in- 
strument. Traditional instruments are 

made of wood, which give them warmth and soul. 

That is how the Zoybaroque design came to my 

mind. I wanted to give warmth and soul to the 


Thinking metal instead of wood, I start searching 
for references of the baroque era. I made the model 
by thinking like an iron crafter. I wanted to show F 
holes and a headstock, like traditional stringed in- 
struments. I designed the shapes with a vector ap- 
plication, imported the lines and started the 
modeling process. 

For the head- 
stock, I started 
the volute using 
the Screw Tool. I 
used Sculptris in- 
stead of Blender's 
own sculpting 
tools for the lion. 

To keep things in 
proportions and 
lined up, A photo 
of myself was 
taken playing a... 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! The Importance of Body Language 


Never underestimate the impor- 
tance of body language when pos- 
ing a CG/3D character. Poor posing 
of your character can muddy the message 
you are trying to send to the viewer. In an 
animation you might get away with it to a 
certain extent, depending on other factors 
and elements in the project. But a still im- 
age with confusing or conflicting body 
language will be unable to convey the 
proper message. 

I found a great list of behaviors and mean- 
ings online that can help by giving you a 
starting point, when deciding how to pose a charac- 
ter. Now some of these are definitely geared to- 
wards animation and movement. But many can be 
posed for a still image or in the middle of a move- 
ment, say mid step in the "Confidence = brisk, erect 

Examples Of Body Language 

And since images are more fun than just descriptive 
text, here are a few of the more fun ones that I 
played with. Granted, having a character that actu- 
ally has a face, will help a lot in conveying the right 
go hand in 
hand with 
body lan- 
guage and 
give im- 
clues as to 
what is 
going on. 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! The Importance of Body Language 




Brisk, erect walk 


Standing with hands on liips 

Readiness, aggies si on 

Sitting with legs crossed, foot 
kicking slightly 


Sitting, legs apart 

Open, relaxed 

.Aims crossed on chest 


Walking with hands in pockets, 
shoulders hunched 


Hand to cheek 

Evaluation, flunking 

Touching, slightly nibbing nose 

Rejection, doubt, lying 

Rubbing the eye 

Doubt, disbelief 

Hands clasped behmd back 

Anger, frustration, apprehension 

Locked ankles 


Head resting in hand, eyes 


Rubbing hands 


Sitting with liands clasped behind 
head, legs crossed 

Confidence, superiority 

Open palm 

Sincerity, openness, innocence 

Pinching bridge of nose, eyes 

Negative evaluation 

Tapping or drumming ringers 


Steephng fingers 


Patting/ fondling hair 

Lack of self-confidence, 

Tilted head 


Stroking chin 

Trying to make a decision 

Looking down, face tinned away 


Biting nails 

Insecurity, nervousness 

Pulling or tugging at ear 


Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

ARTICLE! Blender 2.5 Lighting and Rendering (Book) 



Blender 2.5 

Lighting and Rendering 


Over the past year and a half I've had the tre- 
mendous opportunity to work with Packet 
Publishing on "Blender 2.5 Lighting and Ren- 
dering", a book that aims to not only help beginners 
get into the field of lighting and rendering in 3D, 
but to help freelancers and professionals enhance 
the quality of their renders by learning how to ap- 
proach their scenes in new ways. Over the course 
of the book, readers learn how to light three com- 
mon types of environments: exterior scenes, interior 
scenes, and "hybrid" scenes that contain both natu- 
ral and artificial light sources. 

The most rewarding aspect of the writing process 
was how much I learned over the course of the 
book's development. As an artist I truly believe that 
the only way to truly understand a concept is to 
teach it and writing "Blender 2.5 Lighting and Ren- 
dering" is a testament to that. The editors at Packt 
Publishing were amazingly patient as we worked - 
and reworked - the content over the course of the 
first few months. 

After developing an initial outline for the book, we 
started writing first drafts, but soon realized that 
the approach we were taking wasn't ideal, and it 
didn't engage the reader as much as we had origi- 
nally hoped. Five months into the project, we de- 
cided the book had to be restarted - from scratch. 
Running full-tilt back to the drawing board, I devel- 
oped a new outline that soon became the road map 
for the final book. Instead of leading the reader 
through Blender's wide array of rendering features, 
the new outline proposed that the book would ex- 
plain how to approach three environments com- 
monly found in production, what to look for, and 
how to use Blender's lighting and rendering features 
to achieve the desired results. These "environment 
types" included exterior environments, interior envi- 

ronments, and environments that had both exterior 
as well as "interior" light sources. 

With the new outline and new goal, the writing 
process resumed. After entering the final draft stag- 
es, production sped up from an average of two 
weeks per chapter to three or four days a revision. 
Although the new schedule resulted in many late 
nights laboring over broken Blender files and set- 
tings that changed with each new Blender release, 
seeing the final result now makes it all worth it ten 
times over. The skills I developed while writing the 
book, both as a writer and as a Blender artist, have 
opened up so many more opportunities for me to 
grow as a tutor and freelancer. 

Now that my writing experience with Packt Publish- 
ing is over (for now at least), I'm proudly taking 
what I learned and applying it to my new project, . where I host tutorials written by 
both myself and other members of the 3D commu- 
nity. Although the tutorial library is small right 
now, I hope to expand beyond Blender and include 
tutorials for Autodesk Maya, Adobe Photoshop, 
Adobe After Effects, and The Gimp. I truly believe 
that my experience with Packt Publishing directly 
impacted how I teach students, both online and in 

If you're interested in learning more about "Blender 
2.5 Lighting and Rendering", feel free to visit the of- 
ficial book page on Packt Publishing's website 
and-rendering/book . To download the Blender files 
used in the book for free, visit the book's page at 
and-rendering/ . 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 


: ( 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - 'Once Upon an Image 



Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 


Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 


ce Clpoi) A Hup ted Nigbt - by Brurja Alberto 


-•, , 








Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 



i%i* 1 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 


Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 


Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

Issue 30 | Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

Wagt to write for BlepderArt Magazine? 

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Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image" 

tlpcon)ir)g Issue Tbenje' 

'Under the Microscope" 


Coordinate Systems 
Integration (animated) 
Proofing Pythagoras's theorem 


Animations/Simulations of some me- 
chanic experiments 

Atom/Subatomic Particles 

Electronic orbital (visualisation) 

• Chemistry: 

The look of a molecule 

• Biology: 

The animal cell 
The plant cell 
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Issue 30 I Oct 2010 - "Once Upon an Image"